Nursing students at UAB Huntsville, Calhoun not learning at hospital due to COVID-19

Calhoun responds to nursing clinical suspension

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The medical field is overloaded right now, and now we’ve learned local nursing students are having to stay mostly on the sidelines.

Calhoun Community College and UAB in Huntsville and Birmingham have suspended their clinical program for nursing students.

We talked with deans for both schools.

Roger Smailligan, the dean for the UAB medical campus in Huntsville says it's because the Liaison Committee on Medical Education- the accrediting body for all medical schools- recommended it.

The LCME says the risk is too high for medical students to be in the hospital.

UAB Huntsville responds to clinical suspensions

Smalligan tells us they are evaluating the situation every two weeks and will get the students back to their clinical work as soon as possible.

Smalligan says the 35 seniors will graduate on time. And they have all been matched with jobs already. But many nursing students want to help, he said.

Students at UAB in Birmingham are volunteering to help make calls to patients who have tested negative for COVID-19.

"Shortly after that I had requests from my local medical students saying what can I do to help. Even though testing has been a little bit slower to ramp up here. Because it is becoming more common we are going to be exploring how we can include our medical students as volunteers from a safe distance. By making phone calls and giving medical advice over the phone once they receive appropriate training,” Smalligan said.

Dean of Health Sciences at Calhoun, Bret McGill tells us the lab work and clinical work is a big part of the curriculum for nursing students.

But they have also suspended that right now.

McGill says they are doing everything they can to make sure graduation still happens and these students can move on to the next step.

And says the accrediting agencies and licensing boards are making exceptions to some requirements.

However, even if they graduate on time that doesn’t mean they will be able to take their license exam.

Those exams aren’t handled by the school. He says it’s possible the exam dates could be postponed, but he says the students will receive a temporary license when they graduate.

“They were also disappointed that they weren’t going to be in the hospital helping out. There’s a few students that had that fear you know of not wanting to contract COVID-19, but our students are at harms way everyday. With all kinds of disease that are outside of that kind of disease that they work with everyday so they kind of accept that going into this profession,” McGill said.

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